Drowning Report A Warning To Play It Safe Around Water

27 November 2016

People aged 65 and over are being warned to be extra vigilant around water this summer, with figures showing a 40 per cent increase in drowning deaths of older people.

On the first day of Water Safety Week, Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino launched this year’s Victorian Drowning Report and announced a new water safety campaign targeting older people.

While the report highlights a concerning increase in drowning deaths in the older-age category, toddlers are still at the greatest risk, with children aged up to four years contributing to the highest rate of both fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents.

A second water safety campaign will begin early 2017 raising awareness of the drowning risk for children under four. The report also found that:

  • 43 people lost their lives in Victorian waters – five more than the 10 year average
  • There was a total of 113 non-fatal and fatal drowning incidents in 2015-16
  • The drowning rate of females increased by 33 per cent compared to the 10 year average, but males still account for 72 per cent of all drowning victims this year
  • Six out of the eight people who died while boating were not wearing life jackets. In the past decade, 80 per cent of people who drowned in boating incidents were not wearing a life jacket

The overall trend demonstrates a 43 per cent decrease in drownings since Play it Safe by the Water began in 1998.

The annual Victorian Drowning Report is an important tool in developing water safety and drowning prevention messages and strategies.

Life Saving Victoria partners with a range of community and government groups through the Play It Safe by the Water working group to deliver drowning prevention messages. Since the inception of this group in 1998, the Victorian drowning rate has decreased by 43 per cent.

Water Safety Week runs from 28 November – 4 December this year and raises awareness about water safety via a range of activities throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino

“Forty three drowning deaths in Victoria is too many, I urge all Victorians to play it safe by the water.”

“A 40 per cent increase in drowning deaths of people aged over 65 is a real concern, it is important for older Victorians to look after themselves when enjoying the water.”

“Water Safety Week is a great chance for Victorians to get involved in water safety activities and learn about ways to stay safe around water this summer.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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